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Brief Published: 12 Aug 2015

US Teens: Tech & Friendship

Over half of US teens have made a friend online

Online gaming, social media and mobile phones play a vital role in how US teens (aged 13 to 17) start and maintain friendships, according to an August 2015 Pew Research report.

Conducted from September 2014 to March 2015, the research looked at the way teens interact with friends in the digital age. Key findings include:

  • Virtual Meetings: Over half of teens have started friendships digitally, most often through social media and gaming. However, only a fifth of teens have met an online friend in person.
  • Texting Rules: Teens mainly rely on text messaging to communicate with their friends on a daily basis, with 55% using this method. Instant messaging and social media follow as preferred daily modes of contact, with 27% and 23% respectively communicating in this way. Only 13% of teens would choose a phone call as the method they'd use first to talk with their closest friend.
  • He vs She: It is more common for boys to make online friends than girls, with 61% of male teens having done so, compared with 52% of females. Girls are more likely to meet friends through social media, whereas playing games online is the primary way boys make new friends in the digital space.

For more insights into teens and their tech-related behaviour, see Born on the Web, SXSWi 2015: Dissolving Demographics and Gen Z: Tech Titans.